Like everyone else with a Netflix subscription, I’ve watched the Minimalism documentary. Whilst I’ve always been something of a neat freak, I also liked to have ‘options’ – something to wear for any occasion, the bits and bobs required for any activity I felt like doing.
I rationalised that if there was something I liked, more must be better. Right?
We live in a 1940’s character cottage with jarrah floors, high ceilings and a beautifully updated interior. It has only two bedrooms and part of my desire in approaching minimalism was to ensure that it won’t be our stuff that pushes us out of that house – I love it, and at this point, I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave. Since coming across minimalism, I’ve done some fairly ruthless decluttering, letting go of clothing, books, memorabilia, kitchen gear, makeup and so many of the random bits of detritus that seemed to collect around my home and in my office desk. As well as feeling as though our little house has more breathing room, I made some surprising discoveries.
1. It’s addictive!
Letting go is challenging at first, but it becomes easier very quickly. I’ve had regular purges before, but it’s always been letting go of stuff in order to buy newer versions. Now I’m actively trying to downsize the amount of things I own. I find myself wanting to let go of more and more and have had to actually force myself not to discard too much too fast! I used some of this energy to jump into helping my best friend declutter her house in preparation for her first baby. She was thrilled with the results and it allowed me to indulge my evangelical side as I waffled on about all the benefits of embracing minimalism!
2. I can breathe.
Our little house feels lighter and airier with less items in it. Somehow even knowing that there are fewer items in the drawers and cupboards makes me feel calmer and more relaxed. I’m not great at sitting still, but I’ve found myself more able to sit on the couch and read for a few hours rather than endlessly tidying up. Which leads me to…
3. Cleaning is a breeze!
Cleaning has become so much less of a source of stress. Being a neat freak, I do get anxious when things are messy – it makes me feel out of control. I find that even when it feels like stuff s EVERYWHERE these days, there’s actually not a lot of it and ten minutes usually does the trick. I’m cleaning less than I ever have in my life and whilst the house isn’t spotless, it’s relatively easy to do a bit here and there – with less stuff, it doesn’t pile up in the same way. And without cleaning as much…
4. I have more TIME!
It leaves time, energy and space for what actually matters to me. Time with loved ones, reading books, walking outside, yoga practice, cooking – all have benefited from not feeling as rushed.
5. It’s led me down the rabbit hole…
A couple of months ago, I said to my partner that I was feeling bored and needed a new project. I tossed a few ideas around but didn’t really latch onto something. Then, over the last few weeks I’ve found myself unexpectedly submerged in a brand new field of interest – namely sustainability and the world of zero waste. I feel that I stumbled across this as an indirect result of minimalism and for the first time in a while, I feel that fire of enthusiasm for something that I can really get my teeth into. No, I won’t be going zero waste, but I am making some changes and plan to write about them soon.
6. Minimalism isn’t just about STUFF!
This has been the most challenging thing to get my head around. Minimalism is about having less, but it’s also about doing less. I feel like letting go of stuff has also been letting go of the ‘shoulds.’ All the things I think I ought to be doing and actually either don’t want to do, or can’t do. I’m prone to over-scheduling, desperately filling every waking hour with commitments to try and be as productive as possible. Consequently, not only do I run around like a headless chook, I frequently feel quite anxious – and paradoxically, I don’t necessarily get a lot done! Since beginning this journey, I’ve let go of at least one calendar commitment that was causing me stress and am working on more of a ’tilting’ idea with my exercise – developing areas of focus for periods of time, rather than trying to do it all at once and feeling guilty when I failed. I also feel like I can say no to social commitments that I’d rather avoid. My fear of missing out has lessened and I’m good with easing off on some of the the pressure I’d created for myself.
So where to with minimalism?
We’re definitely not done. There are still areas at home that need attention (namely the spare room and the shed) but I don’t make those decisions by myself, so it’s going to be a gradual process. I’m hoping that by also being more intentional about anything I choose to bring into my life that I can maintain this sense of calm and create a peaceful atmosphere that feels welcoming and allows for time and attention to be paid to what’s really important. I can’t see myself wanting to step back from this now, but I also know that much of the desire for ‘more, more, more’ or ‘just in case’ has been heavily programmed and will take some time to let go of. And there will undoubtedly be stumbles on that road. That’s fine and I will continue to enjoy the process and to assist those around me who might be keen to go down a similar path.
It’s truly freeing to realise that we don’t need as much as we once thought and to understand that owning less can mean having more.